What Are You Doing Now to Prepare?
NEWSCASTERS predict hard times ahead. Is there anything you can do to prepare?
Will you fill your freezer with hundreds of pounds of food? Hoard all the canned goods you can buy? Take lessons on a pistol range to protect yourself from criminals? Or buy guns to guard your hoarded food? Will you move to some remote, primitive spot?
But think how easily all this preparation could be a complete waste. When electric current or gas is cut off, frozen food is lost. When food is really in short supply, the hoarders are in danger of losing not only it, but their lives as well. For what will stop hungry people? And guns will not stop criminals. In fact, criminals usually have the “drop” on you when they suddenly attack. Moreover, there is a much greater danger on the horizon.
THE PRIMARY DANGER
That danger is from a higher source. It is the day of reckoning that God holds with the entire system of things—religious, political and commercial. The unsolvable crises on every hand show that the world’s system has been ‘weighed in the balances and found wanting,’ and is soon to pass off the scene.—Dan. 5:27; 1 John 2:17.
Accordingly, the primary thing to prepare for is, not what man can do, but survival through God’s destructive acts against this wicked world. Prepare so as to have his favor and care over you. For if he is not watching over you, all other preparation is futile, wasted. (Ps. 127:1) If you prepare with pleasing God in mind, you need not worry about the hardships incident to this old world’s collapse, nor even its opposition and persecution.
COPING WITH ECONOMIC HARDSHIPS
It is certain that all earth’s population faces hardships of one kind or another. Nationalism, self-serving factions and political maneuvering, labor-management disputes, rationing, money devaluation, food shortages, famine in places—these have already brought great difficulties and will bring even greater distress. They surround us so universally that we cannot plan ahead to avoid them completely. But we can wisely use what we have now. How?
The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, an overseer in the Christian congregation: “Give orders to those who are rich in the present system of things not to be high-minded, and to rest their hope, not on uncertain riches, but on God, who furnishes us all things richly for our enjoyment; to work at good, to be rich in fine works, to be liberal, ready to share, safely treasuring up for themselves a fine foundation for the future, in order that they may get a firm hold on the real life.”—1 Tim. 6:17-19.
What is here said applies also to those not rich. All must learn to rely heavily on God. At the same time, we must think not only of self. This course is exactly opposite to the world’s way of thinking but it gives one a firm hold on the real life.
Jesus, in his Sermon on the Mount, spoke comforting words for those serving God, but who may have worries about their everyday needs. He said: “Stop being anxious about your souls as to what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your bodies as to what you will wear. Does not the soul mean more than food and the body than clothing?” Then he concluded: “So never be anxious and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or, ‘What are we to drink?’ or, ‘What are we to put on?’ For all these are the things the nations are eagerly pursuing. For your heavenly Father knows you need all these things. Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you. So, never be anxious about the next day, for the next day will have its own anxieties. Sufficient for each day is its own badness.”—Matt. 6:25-34; compare Hebrews 13:5, 6.
So, Christians have their answer to the economic problem as stated by Jesus. It stresses trust in God and thinking of others—being willing to share. When they do these things, God cares for them.
Of course, there are other pressures that must also be faced. Jesus said to his disciples: “You will be objects of hatred by all the nations on account of my name.” (Matt. 24:9) How do you feel about facing persecution?
DO YOU FEAR PERSECUTION?
Of course, no one welcomes persecution, and everyone has fear of it. So if you have a normal fear, do not worry; you are not abnormal. But do you have a morbid fear, a sickening dread, a fear that makes you feel like shrinking back? (Heb. 10:39) Then you should take steps to orient yourself properly in a spiritual way.
A good thing to do is to look at the Bible examples of men and women who underwent persecution successfully. We find that they gained great strength through prayer. Elijah was one. He was afraid and fled when King Ahab and his wife Jezebel sought to kill him. But in his despair he prayed to God, and Jehovah answered and strengthened him by an angel. Elijah then went back boldly to carry out his prophetic commission. (1 Kings chap. 19) King David maintained strength through many persecutions by prayer. Psalms 55 to 57 are some of such prayers. The writer of the book of Hebrews cites many examples of victorious endurers. He then concludes, calling attention to an even greater example for strong motivation to endurance:
“So, then, because we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, . . . let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, as we look intently at the Chief Agent and Perfecter of our faith, Jesus. For the joy that was set before him he endured a torture stake, despising shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”—Hebrews chap. 11; Heb 12:1, 2.
Do you say, as some do, ‘I don’t know whether I could stand beatings, torture and privations’? Or, ‘When I read what happened to Jehovah’s witnesses in the Nazi concentration camps I’m just afraid I couldn’t hold onto my integrity if it happened to me’?
If you feel this way, ask yourself, What am I doing NOW? Christianity is a way of life; it is an everyday matter. Are you living according to Bible principles? Or are you dallying, putting off something you know you should do? Are you pursuing material gain to the neglect of Christian responsibilities, associations and activities? Are you holding onto some habit or practice that holds you back? Are your associates those who have little or no interest in God’s purposes?
What do you love? “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matt. 6:21) Do you love ease and leisure to the point that it keeps you from doing what you know you should do? Do you love some form of indulgence that is against your spirituality? If such is the case, get rid of it now, or your heart will be wholly, or at least partly, there. Unless you are wholehearted for God you cannot maintain integrity under test.—Jas. 1:5-8.
However, it is not primarily a matter of what you are not doing. Rather, the question is, What are you doing? (Jas. 1:23-25) Jesus did not say to the “sheep” in the parable of the sheep and goats that they had merely refrained from doing harm to his cause, but what did he say? “I became hungry and you gave me something to eat; I got thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you received me hospitably; naked, and you clothed me. I fell sick and you looked after me. I was in prison and you came to me. . . . To the extent that you DID it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”—Matt. 25:35-40.
On the other hand, what did Jesus say to the “goats”? “To the extent that you did not do it to one of these least ones, you did not do it to me.” (Matt. 25:45) He did not say that the “goats” necessarily practiced great wrongdoing, though, of course, some did. It was enough that they just did not care for Christ, his anointed, spirit-begotten brothers, or their message and work.
APPRECIATE THE SPIRITUAL FOOD NOW
Christian men and women who remained faithful through the fiery crucible of the Nazi concentration camps report that those who had a good foundation through Bible study and association with their brothers were the strong, enduring ones.
One of Jehovah’s witnesses who spent more than ten years in Communist prisons, seven of them in solitary confinement in East Germany, said: “I am very thankful to Jehovah that with the help of his spirit I was able to remain spiritually strong these ten years of being cut off from his organization. I would like to encourage everyone to show proper appreciation for all spiritual food that is given us, since we do not know just how it will be of value to us at some time. If we regularly consume the spiritual food at the proper time, it will help us in times of special difficulties, in which we stand alone, to put our trust in Jehovah and endure steadfast on his side.”
Jesus’ advice, “Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness,” really gives us the “formula” for survival. (Matt. 6:33) Seeking the Kingdom involves knowing its laws and its work and supporting it loyally. Seeking God’s righteousness includes love for God and for those who have his spirit.
If we want God’s help in trials, we must associate with his people now and listen to what is said at their gatherings, also expressing our own faith before them. We need to engage with Jehovah’s people in bearing witness to the Kingdom. At the same time we will be helping other persons to prepare with us for what lies ahead. If we do this now, we can have a good conscience, knowing that we are preparing properly, laying a firm foundation for the real life.—1 Pet. 3:16, 17.